Declare Victory and Pull Out of HD Radio

Radio executives are not dumb.

They may be arrogant enough to think their old business model will work in the future, but as the pain of declining audiences and revenue proliferates they’ll even deal with that.

So why, you ask, is the industry so secretive, silent and shameful when it comes to HD radio?

It’s a flop by any measurement.

Their employees know it. Maybe some of their engineers are having fun sparring on Radio-info’s boards but HD is still a lost cause.

Consider this:

1. HD causes AM interference (you think they could have worked that one out over the past ten or fifteen years).

2. Radio groups have fired up their local HD channels with all the enthusiasm of a death row prisoner eating his last meal. No exciting new formats. In some cases, no formats at all. Nothing to give a listener one reason to own an HD radio that brings me to the next point.

3. Consumers don’t want to buy HD radios and the few big box stores like Best Buy that have been coerced into carrying them don’t even give HD radios space shelf. Ask a Best Buy employee about HD radio and they’ll walk you over to satellite radio – something else they know nothing about and don’t care about.

4. HD proponents continue to throw good money after bad – money from radio corporations – to make it look like HD is still alive. Maybe they think if they just keep feeding money to this monster the HD issue will just leave them alone.

5. HD audio doesn’t sound much better in a car – radio doesn’t sound that good in a car – but listeners don’t care about fidelity as much as radio engineers think. They care about content that sounds reasonably good.

6. The prospect of several HD sub-channels per each terrestrial radio station does not appeal to even die hard radio listeners.

7. Gen Y has decreasing interest in radio – and even less interest in more HD channels.

The problem is that HD proponents and the radio groups who have gone along with this costly distraction apparently want to save face. After all, they are the ones who have committed hundreds of thousands of dollars per station to make them HD capable. It would look foolish and downright irresponsible to their shareholders if they just folded their tent and left the world of HD. I know a lot of people who would admire them.

So they continue to participate in this travesty.

HD is not just a technical issue. It’s a consumer issue.

You can’t sell HD any more than you can sell an AM radio.

The public doesn’t want it.

So, I have an idea.

Why not do like politicians do and declare victory – and pull out. Start looking to places where you might actually pick up new listeners.

Say, the Internet or mobile devices.

These misguided radio execs could say that their investment in HD paved the way for the future of radio. Of course we all know this is bull. But let them save face.

Wasting time and money on HD radio – a proven loser – is now distracting embattled radio executives from seeing if there is still a future for what radio broadcasters used to do so well.

Say you won! Now move on.

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